Robert Downey Jr. knows how to work a room. I notice this while at the swank-a-delic Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for a press conference to celebrate the release of Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.
It’s a packed panel, including co-stars Noomi Rapace (the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Jared Harris, mega producer Joel Silver and Downey’s business and life partner Susan. Between them there are untold Oscar nominations and hundreds of millions in box office returns, but that doesn’t mean squat when Downey enters and takes centre stage.
All eyes — and 90 per cent of the questions — go to him. Midway he feigns embarrassment at the attention and says, “Why doesn’t someone ask Joel Silver a question?”
Why? Because Downey is the most quotable, funny and memorable person in the room, that’s why.
Here’s a sample of what he had to say.
On making sequels:
“There should be a whole online support team for anyone who has ever been involved in making a second part to a first that worked. There is so much to learn. The greatest disguise was us disguising ourselves as consummate by-the-numbers professionals when, in fact, we’re all incredibly eccentric.”
When asked to talk about performing Sherlock Holmes’s drag scenes:
“I guess we’re not talking about this as one of the most important films of the year. I put on some makeup. How are we going to get nominated with these kinds of questions?”
On improving on set:
“I think the goal is to make a well-written scene seem improvised, or to find things in the room you couldn’t have known until you get in the real situation and just try and improve things as you go along.”
On why his co-star was absent:
“Jude (Law) would have been here, by the by, but his son had a soccer game.”
On keeping the set “green”:
“I just remember that every animal that was harmed was promptly taxidermied and sent as a gift to one of the many ecological companies who have these huge concerns that I validate.”
On working with Jude Law and director Guy Ritchie:
“Jude and I are pretty close, but Guy and I are practically brothers. There have been times I have wanted to lob off his head with a machete.”
On collaborating with his director and fellow actors:
“It was a democracy in the truest and most frustrating and most rewarding sense of the word.”